East-to-West EU Migration Not Slowing

Britain and Ireland are seeing more migrant job seekers from ex-communist EU states, with annual migration to Britain alone almost doubling in 2005

New figures suggest migration from ex-communist EU states to Ireland and the UK is not slowing down yet, while Romanians and Bulgarians are beginning to test their new EU travel freedoms.

Ninety thousand Poles alone registered to work in Ireland in 2006 compared to 65,000 in 2005 according to the Irish national insurance office, with over 250,000 new workers settling on the island since 2004.

Net migration to the UK hit 400,000 in 2005 - almost double the level in 2004 and 215,000 more than officially stated by the British government a fresh study by UK consultancy Capital Economics says.

UK daily The Times writes that the report also said the arrival of more than 600,000 migrants from the east since 2004 would continue to encourage others to travel to seek work.

Capital Economics predicts people will begin to move back east from 2009 onward after making their money in the west, while Poles are also becoming more aware of the hardships faced by some job seekers.

Polish construction workers in Ireland risk labouring 60 hours per week for just €300 pay, being tricked out of their wages and denied trade union rights, Polish daily Rzeczpospolita warns in an article Thursday (4 January).

The post-2004 UK and Irish immigration boom has contributed to the old EU15 countries' wariness toward Romania and Bulgarian workers, with just Sweden and Finland opening borders fully from 2007.

The Capital Economics survey forecast that 50,000 to 60,000 people from the EU's newest members will come to Britain in 2007 despite strict rules on work permits for highly-skilled proffesions only.

Meanwhile, Romanian authorities said 9,000 people crossed the border into Hungary in the first 24 hours after the country's EU accession but that the vast majority went back after drinking a cup of coffee.

The day-trippers wanted to "test" if they could really enter another EU state without a visa a statement from the Romanian interior ministry said, Polish newswire PAP writes.

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